Wildcat girls lose big lead, then game

The Oak Harbor High School girls basketball team jumped ahead 19-2 to start Wednesday’s game -- and lost.

The Eatonville Cruisers, a 2A power, was slow out of the gate, but once they got rolling the Wildcats couldn’t hold on in a 58-47 loss in the opening game of Oak Harbor’s annual Santa Slam holiday tournament.

In the other varsity game in the tournament, Anacortes dropped Kentridge 51-29.

Anacortes and Eatonville squared off in the championship game Thursday while Oak Harbor met Kentridge in the consolation bracket. Because of an early holiday deadline, results of those games were not available at press time.

Against Eatonville, Oak Harbor raced to a 15-2 first quarter lead, then upped the margin to 19-2 before the Cruisers shifted into gear. By the half, Oak Harbor’s lead was trimmed to 10, 24-14.

Two free throws by Nicole Mowbray and two buckets by Shantae Young pushed the Wildcats on top 30-16 and it appeared they were in control once again.

Eatonville, showing the poise of a team that has qualified for 12 straight state tournaments, didn’t fold; they simply took off on a 24-5 run. Eleven of the last 13 points were scored by point guard Kristin Schaub, nine off three 3’s.

Eatonville ended the third quarter up 40-35.

The Wildcats hung around in the fourth quarter and trailed by just five, 50-45, with 3:11 left when high scoring Jessica Denmon fouled out.

Oak Harbor’s offense went stagnant early in the first half once Denmon got into foul trouble. She picked up her fourth foul just after Oak Harbor finished off its game-starting 19-2 run with 5:51 left in the second quarter. She rotated in and out the rest of the half, and the Wildcats lost all offensive flow.

Denmon began the second half on the bench, entered at the 4:52 mark of the third quarter with Oak Harbor up 33-27, and fouled out with three minutes left in the game.

Coach Brett McLeod said, “When Jessica or Nikki (Mowbray) aren’t in, we struggle.” The Wildcats also played without injured guards Molly DeLeon and Janelle Yoshimoto.

Denmon finished with 16 points, Mowbray had 13, Young seven, Emilie Renninger five, Naomi Walker four and Clarissa Abedesco two.

Eatonville, which is picked to win the Nisqually 2A League this year, raised its record to 4-1. The Cruisers are currently ranked ninth in the state in the Tacoma News-Tribune 2A girls poll.

Oak Harbor fell to 4-3. The Wildcats are at Arlington Tuesday, Jan. 5, and home Thursday, Jan. 7, with Stanwood at 7:30 p.m.

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